Saturday, April 29, 2017

Atlantic County 4-H Model Railroad Club Train Show

Along with Bob, Mario, & Larry, I attended the Atlantic County 4-H Model Railroad Club Train Show. It contained several large layouts manned by members of the:
.          Atlantic County 4-H Model Railroad Club
.          NJ Southern N & T Trak
.          Central NJ N-Trak
.          Five Point N Trak
.          Northern NJ T Trak
.          Brooklyn N Trak
.          Keystone N & T Trak

This was the first time I ran across the T Trak modules and I was impressed by their work.


Hey, the Tax Co. is going out of business!

I question the wisdom of building an airline terminal over a railroad???

Monday, March 27, 2017

23 More Days!

23 more days until the end of tax season and I can return to the hobby! 

I do seasonal work for a large tax preparation firm from January to April 18th. They are about 50 people short in their southern New Jersey offices and consequently we put in a lot of hours during the tax season. My health has been struggling with annoying minor issues so I am dragging myself to the finish line this year.

I did get the opportunity to attend dual meetings of the PRSL Historical Society last week. The first part was an open house at the restored PRSL Glassboro train station. I’ve included a photo from Ben Kranefeld showing its deteriorated state before the restoration began. The station was built in the 1860s and the local historians, especially Rich Drobil, can regale you with their adventures in uncovering historical treasures before the actual restoration began. There was not much left after the termites and vandals had completed their work but a faithful few returned the station to life and turned it into a worthy railroad museum.

Prior to Reconstruction - photo by Ben Kranefield

Glassboro Station March 2017

A local freight train passes Glassboro station every night around 8:00 PM - photo by Lou McCall

A painting of the Glassboro train station area in the 1890s.
Following the open house we moved to a local church basement where Steve Barry, editor of Railfan/Railroad magazine, presented a slide show of railroading in southern New Jersey.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Was pleased to host a visit by a band of 13 local model railroaders headed by the infamous Lt. Steve Moyland (ret.), benevolent dictator of the HO Oak Valley Model Railroad crew in Deptford. They also let me tag along on a full day of visits to other local model railroads. (Unfortunately all HO since the group has deficits in eyesight and small motor skills. (Just kidding :-) )).

First stop: Bob Ainsworth: What stood out to me, on his Oak Valley & Western, was the many industries that had 3 dimensional signs (fuzzy teddy bears, toy blocks, etc. - nice touches).

Next we visited Paul More. What I enjoyed the most was that most of his scratch built structures had memorable personal stories attached to them (his granddad's gas station, etc.). (He also had a nice collection of antique cars and gas pumps.)

Next we stopped to see Chris Schulte's Reading RR layout and his beautiful street and catenary work.

After a visit to my PRSL layout (and you have certainly seen enough pictures of that!) we created a disturbance at a local restaurant and learned the steps needed to buy a 100' hot air balloon (Steve again). Then we visited an open house of the Delaware & Susquehanna Model Railroad Club. Beautiful structure work and impressive electrical displays.

A fun day! Thanks Steve!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Overdue Projects

I finally got around to some overdue work in the Camden area trackage:

  1. Lengthened the arrival lead (now holds 9 cars instead of 4).
  2. Added an engine escape turnout between the yard leads (also effectively lengthens the yard leads).
  3. Added a pair of turnouts to enable a 4th staging track to be located behind the viaduct (holds 23 tankers and enables us to add another turn (2 trains) to the operating schedule).

Next up I need to:

  1. Replace a Peco Electrofrog turnout that thinks it’s an Insulfrog in the other 3 track staging area (getting tired of dispatching 2 trains concurrently instead of 1 at a time) and 
  2. Wire the extended yard lead

Monday, December 19, 2016

N Scale Magazine Jan-Feb 2017

My third and final series article was published in the Jan-Feb 2017 issue of N Scale Magazine. Hopefully this will help those attempting to set up prototypical group (or individual) operations on their layouts.

They also graciously gave me the honor of the cover shot  (3 billion photo attempts later) for the magazine. I think I had reached the limits of my 10 year old, 8 magapixel, Canon PowerShot A590. The trick is to get as small an aperture (and lots of daylight lighting) as possible to maximize the area in focus. An amateur/professional friend made a valiant but failed effort to help with his high end equipment. 

Shooting a model railroad is a distinct talent with different rules to the game. My A590 was limited to an f stop of 8. I borrowed my daughter's 12 megapixel DSLR, f stop 20 (which in reality is not a big improvement over the point and shoot's f8), and managed to get better results. I submitted what I though was the winner but they chose a different shot from one of the last photo shoots. (They are not color-blind, but I am!)

The real laugh is my layout attempts to faithfully model Westville, Woodbury, and part of Brooklawn. They chose to use a shot of Camden which is not faithfully modeled. Such is life.

The Russians are Back! 
The bulk of the recent views (183) of my blog have come from Russia. I hope Mr. Putin is enjoying the photos!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Philly Transfer Has New Power

Here is the latest edition (from the Chris Broughton Locomotive Works) to my PRSL layout. A Baldwin center-cab RT-624 arriving in Camden with the Philly transfer. A movie clip, shared (2013) by someone on the PRSL Historical Society, showed a center cab in Camden. I am assuming that was a Baldwin RT624. I traded Chris some brass cabins for this and transforming some old Model Power P70s closer to what the PRSL uses.

The RT624 is a Shapeways body on an Atlas Alco C630 chassis.

A Baldwin S12 hustles out to meet the Philly transfer headed by a Baldwin RT624

The P70s were originally cheap Model Power models. Chris added steps, replaced the 6 axle trucks with 4 axle ones, repainted, and lettered for PRSL. The decals are not as elongated as the prototype but were still an improvement. He did 3 coaches and a PBM (Passneger-Baggage-Mail). No PBMs existed on the PRSL so we numbered it with the open number (9937) between the coach and combine numbers.
PRSL P70s discharging their passengers in Woodbury

Monday, November 28, 2016

Yet Another Trip Down Memory Lane

While browsing my email I spotted a sidebar ad that caught my eye and immediately transferred me back to the 1950s. I recognized the cover of a 1950 Bantam Book put out by the staff of Lionel.

I immediately ordered the paperback and when it arrived I was vividly thrust back to images of model railroading in my youth! Each page seemed electric and alive. This was the book where I learned the basics of railroading (and why the C&NW was the only left hand running railroad [designed by British engineers]), basic construction, and constructing buildings from discarded shoe boxes.

My wife asked why I never kept the original paperback? I had to explain it was reduced to a pile of separate pages crumbling from drool and overuse.

It also contained my all time favorite track plan (definitely required Lionel's magna-traction engines to work):

Inspiration Month - November 2016

November is NMRA's Model Railroad Open House Month and a great chance to be wowed by what other model railroaders have accomplished. I put together a tour for a couple of friends who are relatively new to the hobby and visited some of my favorite layouts.

We started with the outstanding Claemont, Lewiston, and Western HO railroad by John Rahenkamp. He is a real pleasure to chat with (in spite of his ranking N Scale just above Brio trains).

We also visited HO layouts by Mike McNamara's (Northeast Kingdom Railroad),Chris Conaway, and Mert Gardner.

The highlight of the day was visiting with Konrad Richter and enjoying his outstanding N Scale layout (which include's Rick Spano's prototype operating coal dumper).